Blower Bentley beats Italian exotics to win Quail

| 18 Aug 2012

Reno collector Bob Lee snapped up another prestigious 'best of show'  at the 10th Quail Motorsports Gathering on Friday 17 August.

Lee's 1930 Bentley 4 1/2-litre 'Blower' with Gurney Nutting roadster body pipped Ferrari and special pre-war Alfa groups at this exclusive $400 a ticket event set in the lush Carmel valley. 

But the talking point was the debut of David Smith's stunning Alfa V8 special (above).

At a glance the black beauty looked like a short chassis 8C 2900B roadster but the new creation is based on a 1939 2600B chassis powered by a prototype 2 1/2-litre V8, one of three built before WW2, and discovered in an Italian scrapyard. 

With the help of 2.9 owner John Mozart, Pixar animation, and a supremely talented Seattle-based hot rod body specialist Adam Hart, industrial designer Smith has created his dream car.

"We only finished it last week after four and a half years work," said Smith. "I can't wait to take it on the next Alfa 8C rally."

Other highlights included the largest ever gathering of ISOs, which featured four from Germany.

Among the special guests was founder Piero Rivolta who brought along his ex-Le Mans Lele (below, with its creator), and the spectacular Valedo concept car from his Florida home. GP ace Howden Ganley was reunited with his old Iso Formula One car. 

Making a welcome relief from the dazzling restored machines were several original discoveries.

Donald Osborne's 1958 Fiat 750 Viotti Sport (above) featured fake snails creeping over the flaking paint, and  won the FIVA trophy for 'Most well preserved vehicle.'

"It came to the US with a Swiss au pair in 1958, and the Connecticut family loved it so much they bought it when she went back home," said Osborne.

"They drove it for a few years before covering it with a blanket and parking it until we discovered it in 2007. It still has its original tyres and '50s parking permit disc."

Another barn find attracting great interest was Texan Mark Brinker's Moretti 1300 (below).


A raucous Cobra race group convoyed over from the track with police motor cycle escort for a special lunchtime display which included David Levian's 1963 260 CSX 2005, which was used at Carroll Shelby's Riverside based High Performance Driving School (below). 

Away from the cars was a special photographic gallery which included evocative '60s motor sports portraits by Linda Weldon (below).

"I went to my first race at Riverside in 1965. I was very young, but Stirling Moss was very encouraging, and got me pit passes," recalled Weldon.  "I knew he was very dangerous, but there was no romance. Drivers seemed to react well to a female photographer!"